Authentic Pasta Rustica | A Couple For The Road

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Pasta Rustica, also called Penne Rustica, is a traditional Italian countryside dish that’s common in areas outside of big cities. The better vegetables you get to prepare this dish, the better the dish will be. Also, don’t be afraid of the fats and cheeses – this is suppose to be a really rich and filling dish, and this recipe will make sure you walk away satisfied!


1 cup finely-grated Parmesan cheese

2 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced

2 ounces grilled, diced chicken breast

2 ounces broccoli florets with some of the stem, peeled and chopped

2 ounces ham, cut into ¼“ dice

2 ounces mostaccioli or penne rigati pasta

2 – 3 ounces red onion or shallots, minced/finely diced

1 – 2 fat cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon lemon-pepper

1 tablespoon each olive oil and softened butter, for frying the onions and meat

Salt and ground, black pepper, to taste

Crushed, red-pepper flakes, to taste

For the Garlic-Parmesan Sauce

4 ounces ricotta cheese or mascarpone

4½ teaspoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon roasted garlic (it comes in the little jars, or make your own)

½ cup finely-grated Parmesan cheese, divided

¼ cup milk or cream


Preheat oven to 300° F. Blanche the broccoli florets 30 seconds in lightly salted water, then plunge in an ice bath to flash cool; remove from water.

You don’t have to blanche frozen broccoli for this recipe – just thaw it before making.

Boil the pasta just until al dente.

Mix ¼ cup of cheese with the sauce ingredients thoroughly in a food processor until very smooth. Stir in remaining cheese, set aside.

Soften up the shallots, fresh garlic and mushrooms with red-pepper flakes in a large saucepan in the olive oil and butter. Stir in the meats to brown, then stir in everything else, including the broccoli, cooked pasta and sauce; warm through.

Place the pasta mixture in a greased 1½- to 2-quart casserole dish. Top liberally with grated Parmesan cheese and bake 30 minutes uncovered.

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